Friday, October 30, 2009

Who's Afraid of Halloween?

In the original version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (or rather, in the original version of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) the entry for Earth consisted of one word: "Harmless".

In the revised edition, it was amended to: "Mostly harmless".

Much the same could be said of the evolution of my attitude toward Halloween.

When I was a lad, I can't recall having any awareness that Halloween was about anything other than innocent fun.

Then, at some point in childhood, I remember hearing some news report around Halloween time about Devil's Night in Detroit. That's not good, I thought.

And now, for the past several years, I've grown increasingly aware of the impossible-to-miss anti-Halloween sentiment among many Christians, both Catholic and Protestant.

This astounds me.

To be sure, the rampant commercialization of Halloween is not exactly a crowning cultural achievement, and there are ample examples of costumes that one would be hard pressed to argue are not imprudent to wear (for one of various reasons).

But to argue that any sort of observance of Halloween per se is wrong is not a little ridiculous, especially considering that Halloween is, yea, a Christian holiday -- and, even more specifically, a Catholic holiday.

I'd be hard pressed to come up with any clearer thoughts on the day than those Sean Dailey articulates here:

Anyway, today is Halloween, a most glorious holiday. A good Catholic holiday, for this is the day that we honor the age-old truth that the devil, like all who are besotted with pride, cannot stand being mocked. So we mock him, with silly costumes and mischievous pranks and door-to-door begging, and have a wild old time doing so. Tomorrow we go to Mass to honor the saints in the Church Triumphant and ask their intercession for us in the Church Militant; and we will spend the rest of November offering up suffrages for the poor souls in Purgatory -- the Church Suffering. But tonight, we celebrate our mortality ... while not forgetting that even in death we retain hope in the Resurrection.

Today I also came across an eminently sensible article by Helen Hull Hitchcock that is well worth a read. Therein, she offers some historical background about Halloween customs and traditions, and thoughtfully addresses some of the common prudential concerns many Christian parents have regarding Halloween.

Perhaps needless to say, our kids will be going trick-or-treating tomorrow night, because, as Hitchcock rightly points out, it's simply "fun".

And I should also point out that they are also participating this year in what is commonly offered by many Catholic parents as an "alternative" to Halloween: to wit, a Saints Party.

I'm planning to post pictures of them in both sets of costumes next week.

[Cross-posted at Catholic Dads]


The Dutchman said...

Many of the professors at Moody Bible College and pastors at Moody Church sent their kids to the same elementary school where my kids went. Not only were they forbidden to dress up for Halloween, but they couldn't accept candy either. Proof, yet again, that a puritan is someone who is deathly afraid that someone, somewhere, is having fun.

Michelle said...

Thanks for the post! I was waiting for it. ;)